CHANGE UNIVERSE: Magazine Jewels
New York | AttractionSeptember 15, 2009

New Elevated Park

Share this post:

Pin it on Pinterest Share it on Google Plus

The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan's largest industrial district.

No trains have run on the High Line since 1980. Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group, formed in 1999 in worked partnership with the City of New York to preserve and maintain the structure as an elevated public park  when the historic structure was under threat of demolition and created the public landscape with guidance from a diverse community of High Line supporters.

The High Line ,designed by an architectural team from Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is meant to offer a retreat from street life, a bucolic space floating 30 feet in the air with Hudson River views. Yet it will retain many elements of its gritty past: graffiti is prevalent on the buildings it winds through, and some of the rails have been restored in the park. That the park -- which grew from an idea hatched in the 1990s into a $170 million project -- exists at all is a marvel.

The project gained the City's support in 2002. Much of the designers' work has been devoted to seeking a balance between preserving what one called "the romance of the ruin" -- wild grasses growing up through the metal skeleton of rails and rivets -- and creating a fresh green corridor for pedestrians.

The High Line south of 30th Street was donated to the City by CSX Transportation Inc. in 2005. Condominiums, hotels and office buildings designed by architectural talent like Jean Nouvel, Annabelle Selldorf, Renzo Piano, and the Della Valle Bernheimer firm are sprouting along the park's span.

André Balazs's 18-story Standard Hotel, designed by Polshek Partnership Architects, is the only new building that rises directly over the elevated park. The towering structure is supported on massive concrete pillars, while a ground-floor restaurant and garden cafe are tucked underneath the High Line's hefty steel frame.

Construction on the park began in 2006. The first portion of the three-section High Line, which runs near the Hudson River from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, is  open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are entrances at Gansevoort Street (stairs) and at 16th Street (elevator); exits are located every few blocks.

The second phase, which extends to 30th Street, is under construction and expected to be completed by fall 2010. The third phase, up to 34th Street, has yet to be approved.The project has already transformed the area near its 22-block stretch near the river, prompting some of the most ambitious development in the city in years. The first two sections of the High Line cost $152 million, according to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, $44 million of which was raised by Friends of the High Line, the group that led the project.

The High Line runs through three of Manhattan's most dynamic neighborhoods: the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton. When the High Line was built in the 1930s, these neighborhoods were dominated by industrial and transportation uses. Now many of the warehouses and factories have been converted to art galleries, design studios, retailers, restaurants, museums, and residences.

The Meatpacking District

Much of the first section of the High Line is located in the Meatpacking District. Around 1900, the district was home to more than 250 slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants.Before the High Line was built, trains on street level, as well as barges and ships from the Hudson River, brought goods to the district for processing

When the High Line was built, it carried freight trains full of meat and other goods directly to the upper floors of these meatpacking plants and factories. In recent decades, as industrial uses have declined in New York City, the Meatpacking District has seen a resurgence of other uses. Its historic cobblestone streets and low-lying industrial buildings are now home to many restaurants, nightclubs, design and photography studios, and fashion boutiques.

When the High Line was built in the 1930s, these neighborhoods were dominated by industrial and transportation uses. Now many of the warehouses and factories have been converted to art galleries, design studios, retailers, restaurants, museums, and residences. Around 1900, the meatpacking district was home to more than 250 slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants. In recent decades, as industrial uses have declined in New York City, the Meatpacking District has seen a resurgence of other uses.

Before the High Line was built, trains on street level, as well as barges and ships from the Hudson River, brought goods to the district for processing. When the High Line was built, it carried freight trains full of meat and other goods directly to the upper floors of these meatpacking plants and factories.

Its historic cobblestone streets and low-lying industrial buildings are now home to many restaurants, nightclubs, design and photography studios, and fashion boutiques.

In 2003, following a community-led effort, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission established the Gansevoort Market Historic District in recognition of the neighborhood’s historical importance.

The corner of Gansevoort Street and Washington Street, at the High Line’s southern end, is the future location of a new Whitney Museum of American Art facility. Pre-construction has begun on the site, and the facility is currently projected to open in 2012. Visit the Whitney's Web site for more information.

West Chelsea

To the north of the Meatpacking District is the neighborhood of West Chelsea, where the majority of the High Line is located. West Chelsea shares the industrial past of the Meatpacking District, with large factories and warehouses lining its streets and avenues. West Chelsea is now home to the world’s largest concentration of art galleries.

In 2005, much of West Chelsea was rezoned by the Department of City Planning, to allow for the High Line's reuse, to encourage the continued use of former industrial spaces as art galleries, and to encourage economic growth through residential development along Tenth and Eleventh Avenues.

Much of Chelsea was, and continues to be, residential; its tree-lined blocks of historic townhouses earned part of it designation as the Chelsea Historic District in 1970, with an extension added in 1981.

The creation of another Historic District, in West Chelsea, was recently approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. This District focuses on the industrial history of the neighborhood, and includes many historically and architecturally significant factory and warehouse buildings.

Clinton / Hell's Kitchen

The High Line’s northernmost section runs through the southern section of the Clinton / Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Much of this neighborhood was part of the 2005 Hudson Yards Rezoning, which was meant to encourage large-scale development and the improvement of transportation infrastructure.

In the next decade or so, this neighborhood will likely undergo significant changes to its built environment.

High-lining- Fashion Statements

According Bill Cunningham on a covaerage for the New York Times the High Line fashion message is of the future.

30 feet above the ground and through the buildings you can witness the most interesting and cool downtown fashion promenade. Unlike Fifth and Park Avenue the fashion belongs to the art  and downtown crowd.

Sportswear, minimalistic dresses  short and long over the ground and not overly expensive reflecting the look of the of Meat Packing District shops are all seen at the High Line .

But as mesmerizing as the design is, it is the height of the High Line that makes it so magical, and that has such a profound effect on how you view the city.

Joelle's Tips:

The Suspended Park: The High Line

Photo Credits: Joelle Lifestyle / The High Line Flikr Pool

Source: The New York Time : The High Line

Subscribe to the Joelle Magazine Newsletter
About the newsletter